Monday, February 25, 2008


A recent Ohio flap has been about the number of handicapped parking placards that are distributed around the state. Complaining about handicapped parking is isn't new--it tends to surface around Thanksgiving and Christmas, when people see (or think they see--an important distinction) the handicapped spots being abused by people who do not "deserve" a placard.

Now the argument has turned from this to deciding that the state distributes too many handicapped placards, i.e., multiple ones for a single person (if multiple people have to drive that person).

Handicapped parking complaints raise my hackles awfully quick. Pre-transplant, I got a placard. I was commuting to school, and Capital's parking situation was (and is) abhorrent. Without that placard I would have been parking in the hinterlands, lugging about 20 pounds of books on my back to my classes. It would not have flown. And I still have the placard. It's good until October of this year (in Ohio they're four year things). To look at me, both pre- and post-transplant, you would not think I "needed" a spot. I'd be one of those young people that the letters to the editor complain about. Well, I wasn't. I had 23% lung function. I needed that spot, damn it. Even after the transplant, there are times when I've been in the hospital and during the recovery period, I've needed to use it.

I hate the looks I got (and still get, if I use it), from people. A note to the general public: STOP IT. The next time I get one of those looks, I swear I'm going to show that person the surgery scars.

A person who is young can very easily have a heart or lung condition that requires the placard. You don't need to be in a wheelchair or have a broken leg, or whatever. I would even say that they should get FEWER looks, because I never had a wheelchair, so it was just me and my beaten-up lungs trudging toward an entrance. It wasn't like I could push myself there.

I don't know where the debate is currently headed, and I know that there are people who misuse the placards. But can we please get over the idea that only people in wheelchairs or on crutches need these placards? It's outdated and untrue.

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